South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

PWSA receives $13.4M in grants and low-interest loans from PENNVEST

Funding for the removal of lead service lines ensures water quality and protects public health

 

Last updated 1/17/2023 at 12:12pm

PWSA contractor crews coordinate a successful lead service line replacement.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) was awarded a $9.7 million grant and $3.7 million in low-interest loans from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) for the 2023 Neighborhood Lead Service Line Replacement Project. This funding will replace approximately 1,000 lead service lines at priority locations within its service area.

"With continued support from the PENNVEST Board, state leaders, and the City of Pittsburgh, we are removing lead service lines from our drinking water system at a rapid pace," said PWSA Chief Executive Officer, Will Pickering. "Our partnership with PENNVEST has been key to PWSA's success in renewing our water system while minimizing costs to ratepayers."

Since 2016, the award-winning, nationally recognized Community Lead Response Program has replaced more than 9,800 lead service lines throughout the PWSA service area. As a steward of public health, PWSA is committed to a lead-free water distribution system and improved drinking water quality. Its most recent round of lead testing in July 2022 reflects a steady pattern of low lead levels, which have been well within regulatory requirements since the summer of 2020.

The 2023 Neighborhood Lead Service Line Replacement Project will benefit areas to be selected based on the following criteria:

• Blood lead levels in children provided by the Allegheny County Health Department's (ACHD) universal testing program

• Census income data and other data regarding women of childbearing age and children

• PWSA historical and verification records of lead lines

• Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) environmental justice mapping data

PWSA's Community Lead Response Program has created contracting opportunities for construction firms based in Pittsburgh and across the state. The use of PENNVEST funding and PWSA's own procurement policies requires a robust and thorough Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) solicitation process.

Outreach to vendors through the Pennsylvania Department of General Services (DGS) ensures DBE businesses are aware of opportunities and the ability to compete for work funded by EPA financial assistance dollars. PWSA's Supplier Diversity Policy states a goal of 10-25% of all contracts are to be awarded to DBE firms. To learn of these upcoming PWSA opportunities, DBE firms are encouraged to register with its procurement portal.

"The positive impact of PENNVEST's support on our finances cannot be overstated," said PWSA Director of Finance, Ed Barca. "We look forward to continuing a productive relationship as this era of critical investment moves forward."

Over time, this award will save PWSA ratepayers $28 million as opposed to traditional municipal bond funding. With most of the award being grant-based, this is money that does not need to be repaid and provides greater flexibility for investing limited ratepayer dollars.

Since 2018, PWSA has received from PENNVEST a combination of $537 million in low interest loans and $36 million in grants, totaling $573 million. External funding keeps rates as low as possible during an unprecedented level of investment in our essential water systems.

 

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